JUNDO NOTE: REALLY NO NEED TO READ ALL THIS. 'BOTTOM LINE' IS THAT WE AVOID DEBATING POLITICS (but keep an eye out for some serious issues that may arise demanding a stand), KEEP OUR EYE ON THE HIGHER FOCUS OF OUR WORLD AND PRACTICE, AND WELCOME ALL FOLKS HERE INCLUDING THOSE OF ANY POLITICAL VIEWS (as well as people of all socio-economic classes, nationalities, races, ages, creeds, genders, sexual orientation and identification, and physical abilities).
My Dharma Brother Brad has a pretty good statement on the attitude in his Community toward politics ...
This was in response to another Zen Priest urging the San Francisco Zen Center to take this stance ...I recently strongly disagreed with a priest at one of America’s biggest Zen centers who said, “Mr. Trump and his supporters are not manifesting an intention to be other than racist, ecocidal homophobes.” He said their Zen center should issue a statement saying the center, “unequivocally rejects the hateful worldview of President-Elect Donald Trump, and vows together to actively oppose its implementation. All are welcome to join us in this.”
They can run their center any way they like. The Angel City Zen Center (ACZC) welcomes Trump supporters or anyone else. If they can conduct themselves politely while they’re in our shared space, absolutely anyone who holds any political view at all will be welcome as long as I am there. We do not require Trump supporters to repent their vote. Or Hillary, Jill, Gary, or anyone else’s supporters for that matter.
Emily Eslami, one of our regulars at ACZC runs our mailing list. She composed a statement that appears on all of our mailings that goes, “Everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, documented status and political affiliation, is welcome to sit at Angel City Zen Center. The only walls here are the ones we stare at.”
In light of all this, and in consultation with the other Priests of Treeleaf ... and with all our members (please speak up if you disagree!!) ... I would like to highlight what I feel is OUR STANCE AT TREELEAF:So if there is someone who supports Donald Trump who would like to come to San Francisco Zen Center to work on deepening and clarifying their intention to live in wholesome and harmonious relationship with all things, as we too are trying against the stream to work ourselves on these things, then of course they are welcome. They are welcome with all their obstacles and karma, just as all of us are welcome. But their racist, ecocidal, and homophobic act of supporting Donald Trump is not something that we can or need to affirm. You are welcome here despite your act of hatred, just as I am welcome here despite my many and daily acts of hatred. But we will not in the service of “unity” or “empathy” condone or ignore it.
So how about this as a statement of inclusion:
San Francisco Zen Center unequivocally rejects the hateful worldview of President-Elect Donald Trump, and vows together to actively oppose its implementation. All are welcome to join us in this.
- All our welcome here of all political persuasions. Whatever candidate one supported or did not support, anywhere in the world, whether one voted or ignored the whole thing does not matter. In the American election for example (and other recent elections around the world), people on all sides seem to have acted out of concern and what they felt is best, the true "haters" and racists on all sides are few and far between. Most on all sides are just average people doing what they feel is best. Frankly (and this is my personal view, however unlikely) even Nazis, KKK and ISIS members would be welcome at Treeleaf Zendo ... provided that they did not espouse any view of violence, hate, intolerance or racism here (that is the catch). All are welcome to sit Zazen and recite the Heart Sutra and Precepts ... but the minute someone opened their mouth to espouse views of violence, hate, intolerance or racism, they would be stopped from doing so. We do not speak in such ways here. As Brad also notes:
Frankly, if they came to truly understand the Peace and Non-Violence of Zazen, the Heart Sutra and the Precepts they would not be ... they could not be ... racists or violent haters. Thus, I invite them to come sit with us, because I believe it will serve as medicine to cure that anger and violence in their hearts.Someone asked if I’d allow an avowed Nazi or Ku Klux Klan member to sit with us. Absolutely I would. As long as that person could conduct themselves properly in the shared space, they would be welcome. We mostly just sit in silence, looking at the walls. ... After the sitting we have a group discussion. If someone tried to espouse Nazi ideas during that discussion they would encounter a lot of resistance, from me for one. Though I do have to confess that I would be quite interested in finding out why someone with such views would choose to sit with us.
- As to all persons, our welcome statement says it:
Treeleaf Sangha is a multicultural Zen Buddhist Community in which people of all socio-economic classes, nationalities, races, ages, creeds, genders, sexual orientation and identification, and physical abilities discover shared humanity by direct experience of one anothers’ lives. We are open to all. We commit ourselves to cultivating a practice in diversity and multiculturalism by incorporating into our practice the dissolving of all barriers that perpetuate the suffering of separation, prejudice, and discrimination. We intend to expand and develop our awareness of the ways we are conditioned to separate ourselves by socioeconomic class, nationality, race, age, creed, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability and other forms of identity.
- Brother Brad, in my view, correctly describes most supporters of Mr. Trump and Hillary and all the other candidates that I have encountered:
- Should the Trump Administration, or -any- leader, attempt to implement specific policies that truly threaten unnecessary war, civil and human rights, serious damage to the environment, discrimination against social or religious groups or the like, there may come a time to speak out in this Sangha. However, for now, I want to keep this Sangha focused on the "big picture" of where this world should be heading: Toward peace and non-violence, basic rights to safe housing, food and clean water, medical care, education and economic opportunity for all, honoring and cherishing the environment of this planet. The USA is only one country of the world, even if a pretty influential one, and this Sangha transcends all borders. What happens in America is not so important (even if having great impact) compared to the total health and well being of this world.But, since Trump’s election, I have made a concerted — and often painful — effort to try to understand those who support him. They are not all hateful white supremacists who want to kill Muslims and lesbians in order to make America a Christian nation again. Many of them are deeply concerned that politics as usual has been slowly destroying the United States for decades. They saw Hillary Clinton as the continuation of a system gone terribly wrong and Donald Trump as the only candidate with a chance of winning who represented fundamental change. The same way I saw Hillary Clinton as the only candidate with a chance of winning against Donald Trump, even though I had serious doubts about much of what she represented.
Today, people all over the internet and TV news are shouting at each other on the "small picture", which may be necessary in political debate. It is fine too if some people in this Community also enter into discussion from time to time on specific policies, so long as people do so with kind and soft speech (we do not shout at each other here, flame or call names). However, generally, political debate on specific topics is discouraged in this place. Rather, I hope to transcend all the shouting and "small picture" debate, avoiding all the arguing on specific policies, to keep our focus on the "Big Picture" of where this world needs to go ... and the changes in society that must come that are far far beyond the small concerns of our present capitalist, consumer driven, corporate-run-amuck, use and dispose, flag waving nationalist and religion divided world. We need to keep our focus on big changes and the future (hoping, of course, that we survive the present!) We need to see the forest and the distant horizon, and avoid arguing about the trees.
We must also stay focused on that Perspective beyond all views and judgments, measures of lack, war and peace, me and you ... even as we work to make this world better. That is a perspective that is rarely heard in this me you right left right wrong win lose world of political debate.